All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
AUSTRALIA
October 2016
 2 of 4
AUSTRALIA
October 2016
 2 of 4
Our second week was based in Alice Springs, the heart of Australia’s Red Center.   And it was here I was hoping to find my number one target of the trip.  Happily, it happed on our first day. We’re hiking through sparsely vegetated hills, keeping an eye out for large movements or a distinctive profile.   And then our guide, Mark, points to a ridge in the distance and says, “Monitor!  There!” As soon as we move towards the lizard it drops out of sight.  We scramble up the ridge in hopes that it has hunkered down instead of taking off.  Once on top we scan the bushes, and it’s a thrill to realize our luck has held. For several minutes the big girl stays hidden in the grass, but eventually decides she’s not in danger.  She emerges from the grass, tongue-flicking, and ready to resume her foraging.      For the next five minutes or so this five-foot Perentie, the largest lizard in Australia, slowly prowls the rocks searching for food, paying little attention to the Americans who have traveled 10,000 miles to be awed by her.   Far and away the biggest herp highlight of the trip. West of Alice Springs we relocate deeper into the Outback.  We make a feeble attempt at nightcruising before it gets too cool after dark.  Virtually nothing moving but this small snake, a mildly venomous elapid that looks and behaves so much like our harmless Tantilla back home. A nice day-long hike into a hidden valley gave us more glimpses of lizards.   This mini-monitor made for another mini-highlight.  Mark makes another great long-distance spot, and I managed to slowly, slowy get closer for close-ups.   These were the most common lizards we saw throughout the week.  They kinda reminded me of darts.   More Dragons of the Red Center:              
Perentie Monitor Varanus giganteus
Monk Snake Parasuta monachus
Central Ranges Rock Skink Liopholis margaretae
Common Desert Ctenotus Ctenotus leonhardii
Spiny-tailed Monitor Varanus acanthurus
Ring-tailed Dragon Ctenophorus caudicinctus
Long-nosed Water Dragon Gowidon longirostris
Central Netted Dragon Ctenophorus nuchalis
Military Dragon Ctenophorus isolepis
Central Bearded Dragon Pogona vitticeps